LeBauer Park mural celebrates dance culture


Photo: Choreographer Alexandra Joye Warren. Photo Courtesy of Greensboro Downtown Parks, Inc.

Sydney Ross, theCulture Reporter

‘Dance and Play’ is a new mural located in the heart of LeBauer Park. The interactive mural was created by muralist Darlene J. McClinton and choreographer Alexandra Joye Warrenand was designed to celebrate the North Carolina Dance Festival and National Dance Day Greensboro. 

Full of vibrant and bold colors, the mural aims to interact with people of all ages and backgroundsand to inspire engagement, dancing and creativity.

The North Carolina Dance Festival collaborated with local muralists and choreographers to highlight the 30th annual celebration of National Dance Day Greensboro. The Festival is an annual celebration that brings professional, modern and contemporary dance to audiences across the state. 

The National Dance Day Greensboro is a local extension of the NC Dance Festival. For years, the celebration has brought thousands of people together each year in LeBauer Park to celebrate and honor the art of dance. 

To accommodate for COVID-19 restrictions, the NC Dance Festival took a different approach to celebrate the event by having a temporary mural placed where the event would have taken place this year.

For this piece, McClinton and Warren wanted to make it interactive for all people to enjoy. Both artists emphasized the importance of engaging with a target audience. McClinton believes as a muralist, it is important to create artwork that engages with the community. 

“It’s one thing to be an artist for a gallery, but being a public artist, it’s having the responsibility to educate, inspire and make an impact on the lives of others,” McClinton said.

McClinton says classic board games like Twister and Chutes and Ladders inspired the design layout for the interactive mural. Within the layout design, movement words such as jump, hop and twirl were painted throughout the mural to get locals engaged to dance. 

According to Warren, this idea was to create a sense of flow and incorporate the feeling of movement within the mural itself. It has many colors, shapes and intricate designs that are bound to create endless fun and enjoyment for all local visitors.

Since the initial launch of the mural in early September, the mural has attracted much attention from park visitors and local residents, as well as several visual and performing artists throughout the city. Park visitor Jasmine Hatchell says she would describe the mural as unique and peaceful. 

“I would say the mural was like a fresh breath of air,” Hatchell said. “I’m not from the area, so I enjoy seeing things like this. It adds so much value and beauty to the city.”

Choreographers Gelly Long, Dylan Reddish, Laura Gutierrez and Nicole Lawson were invited to interpret the mural and display their passion for the arts on the National Dance Day Greensboro launch. Warren says it was amazing to see other choreographers and dancers move through the mural with their own dances and styles.

“It was interesting to watch the other dancers in the North Carolina Dance Festival take a turn moving through the mural,” Warren said. “It was great to see them using their own movement style and having a great time dancing in the park.”

Warren says the collaboration of a muralist and a choreographer adds to the endless amount of opportunities people can have with these two art forms. Being a performer and choreographer, she says it was a new but great experience collaborating with someone of a different art form. 

“I appreciate visual art, as it often inspires my work as a choreographer, but it was difficult for me to find the right way to translate [my work] into a mural,” Warren said. “However, Darlene was excellent and really open-minded throughout the process, so that made it a wonderful experience.”

McClinton and Warren both hope that people can take something away from their experience with the mural. McClinton says she hopes this mural will brighten someone’s day and make a positive impact on their life.

“I really hope people tap into their imagination and really bring out the inner child in them,” McClinton said. 

The mural is currently on display on the stage floor of the Price/Bryan Performance Pavilion at LeBauer Park. It is currently open to the public for all to partake in and see. 

Warren thinks the vivid and outgoing nature of the mural has been bringing the community together and hopes that it continues to bring joy to all its visitors. 

“My hope is that people who move through it will have a new experience every time,” Warren said. This mural brings the people together in a safe way. It allows them to enjoy the arts and enjoy time togetherwhich is the [artists’] goal.”